This is with reference to Ajai Shukla’s thought provoking article, “Why defence indigenisation fails” (July 31). As a nation, we must hang our heads in shame because despite large Budget allocations made over the past six decades for setting up in-house defence development and production set-ups, India continues to be the single largest arms and ammunition importer in the world thanks to the Ministry of Defence’s managerial inefficiency. Had this happened in the US, Donald Trump would have straightaway downsized half of the defence’s bloated civilian bureaucracy. Had it been in the UK or Israel, the entire research and development and production set-ups would have been handed over to the direct control of a separate vice chief of the army, air force and navy; as they are the actual stakeholders and understand the urgency of present-day battlefield requirements best.
To limit the damage caused and to speed up indigenisation efforts in defence sector over the next decade, we must consider the following, and incorporate the same in the new defence procurement procedure:
Appoint a major general rank officer as project management officer in charge of each indigenisation project (or group of smaller projects) costing over Rs 1 billion, for a period of seven years with the guarantee of promotions in situ every two years depending upon progress achieved.
Put under the PMO in-charge's absolute control, teams drawn from the Defence Research and Development Organisation/Ordnance Factories Board/corporate development agency selected, for delivering the product(s). Also fund 95 per cent of the costs in advance, as in the US.
J K Achuthan, Ernakulam
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